Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Gaston Julia

Gaston Maurice Julia (1893-1978) was a French fractal mathematician who devised the formula for the Julia set. His works were popularised by French mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, and the Julia and Mandelbrot fractals are closely related.

Julia was born in February 3 1893 in the Algerian town of Sidi Bel Abbès, at the time under French rule. In his youth, he had an interest in mathematics and music. His studies were interrupted at the age of 20, when France got involved in World War I and he was called to serve in the army. In one operation on a stormy, cold night he had suffered a severe injury and thus lost his nose. After many unsuccessful operations to remedy the situation, he was forced to wear a leather strap around the area where his nose was for the rest of his life.

His presence became more known after the war after a 199-page article he wrote was featured in the Journal de Mathématiques Pures et Appliquées, a French mathematics journal. The article, titled "Mémoire sur l'itération des fonctions rationnelles" described the iteration of a rational function. The article gained immense popularity among mathematicians and the general population as a whole, and so led to Julia's later receiving of the Grand Prix de l'Académie des Sciences. Despite of his fame, his works were all forgotten until the day Benoit Mandelbrot mentioned them in his works, after which they found fame again, although not as much.

Julia died on March 19 1978 in Paris. He was 85 years old.